10 Essential Tips for Protecting Our Skin from the Sun

With summer now in full swing, the importance of protecting our skin from the sun's harmful rays cannot be minimized, especially as our ozone layer is getting depleted. Being aware of the amount of exposure we receive each day, and at what time, is paramount to avoiding sunburns and preventing future skin cancers. So, whether we're enjoying a day at the beach or going out for our afternoon run, following are ten essential tips to safeguard our skin and promote wellness during the heat of the season. 

1. Seek Shade During Peak Hours

The sun's rays are typically the strongest between 10 AM and 4 PM, so during these hours, it's best to head for the shade. If that's not possible, we can create our own by wearing wide-brimmed hats or setting up umbrellas or canopies to protect our skin.

2. Wear Sun-Protective Clothing

When it comes to our clothes and the sun, fabrics with a tighter weave and garments with a higher neck that cover our chests are essential (especially if we've had radiation treatment!). Light-colored long sleeve shirts can cover our shoulders and arms, while also keeping us cool, when outdoors for extended periods of time. And don't forget about UPF clothing – its built-in sun shield technology helps keep our delicate skin protected.

3. The Power of Sunscreen 

We're fortunate to have so many effective types of sunscreen to choose from these days – from mineral and chemical, to sprays, creams and gels. Regardless of our choice, it's important to generously apply broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher daily. Make sure to reapply every two hours, especially after swimming or sweating, and don't forget those overlooked and hard-to-reach areas such as our back, ears, neck, hands and feet. 

4. Accessorize with Style

From eyewear to hats, shawls to footwear, there's no shortage of fun summer fashion. Slip on stylish UV-protective or polarized sunglasses to shield the eyes, and glam up with a wide brim hat or head scarf to channel your inner Audrey Hepburn. All provide essential protection for our face, neck and scalp.

5. Don't Forget Our Lips

Our lips need protection and frequent reapplications since we are often chatting, eating or drinking outside. Choose from lip balms or SPF lip tints and lipsticks to keep the lips moisturized and shielded from harmful rays. Be sure to choose products that offer both sun protection and hydration, too!

6. Water, Water and More Water

A steady intake of H2O throughout the day will help maintain our skin's moisture and suppleness. Hydrated skin is also more resilient and less prone to sun damage! If plain water sounds too bland, try infusing it with refreshing fruits, vegetables or herbs for added flavor and antioxidants.

7. Reflective Sunlight

Did you know that sand, water, snow and other reflective surfaces can intensify the sun's rays? It's true! That's why in these settings, it's even more critical to have adequate protection on our body. Even when sitting in the shade, due light's ability to reflect and bounce, we can still be exposed to harmful rays. A good rule of thumb is to always wear quality sunscreen, and cover up when outdoors.

8. Medication & Light Sensitivity

Certain medications, including many drugs used in the treatment of breast and other types of cancer, can increase our skin's sensitivity to the sun. To better understand our risk, we recommend consulting a healthcare provider to discuss any potential interactions and taking extra precautions when needed.

9. Perform Regular Skin Self-Check

Scanning our skin regularly is a must! An easy way to remember what to look out for is the ABCDE rule for melanoma detection: Asymmetry, Border irregularity, Color variation, Diameter larger than a pencil eraser and Evolving characteristics. If we notice any changes, even small ones, it's important to consult a doctor. It's also important to stay on top of our dermatology appointments, scheduling at least one fully body skin exam annually.

10. Lead by Example 

Fun in the sun is better with friends and family. So, let's share the knowledge and encourage our loved ones to prioritize sun protection as well. By leading by example, we can create a community dedicated to sun safety and overall wellness.

"Live. Laugh. Wear Sunscreen."  – Unknown